Are You a Choker in Big Games?

Peak Perfromance

Do You Underperform In Games?

Many athletes perform well during the regular season, but under perform in playoff games. Yet, some athletes shine in the playoffs–who I call “gamers.”

Which side of the fence do you fall on in the playoffs: peak performer or under performer?

What’s the mental makeup of athletes who perform at high levels when games matter most compared to the players who under perform?

During the playoffs, when the stakes are high, some players put tremendous amounts of pressure on themselves.

This pressure to perform usually–usually to to high expectations–results in trying too hard to do too much, which can lead to an over controlled performance.

It is important to realize two things about pressure:

  1. Pressure is self-imposed.You place pressure on yourself. The game, no matter regular season or playoffs, is the same game.
  2. More is not better. A little bit of pressure can help you perform optimally, but as expectations rise, performance tends to drop off.

For some athletes, it’s a downward spiral… A couple bad plays can snowball into catastrophe.

You start wondering if bad plays will ever end… Your frustration can cloud your judgement.

You might over analyze and try to fix something that’s not broken. But searching or fixing can be counter-productive causing you to overthink.

Here’s a recent example in baseball….

David Price and His Playoff Woes

Blue Jay ace, David Price has been a consistent dominant pitcher throughout his eight year MLB career.

Price has a career regular season record of 104-56. In his 11 games with the Toronto Blue Jays this season, Price has posted a 9-1 record with a 2.30 ERA.

Despite being one of the top pitchers in baseball, Price has under performed during his career in the post-season.

Heading into the ALCS, Price had a career post-season record of 0-6.

Price had difficulty in his 2015 Division Series start, giving up five runs in seven innings, hitting two batters and giving up two home runs.

In Game 4 of the Division Series, Price made a rare relief appearance and gave up three runs in three innings.

Price knows his under performing in the playoffs is not due to physical reasons.

PRICE: “Like I said before, the dimensions that I’m throwing are still 60 feet 6 inches. That stuff doesn’t change. At this point in the season you know where the home plate is. You have a good feel for what you’re trying to do out there.”

Price acknowledges the confidence is still there, but continues to let the pressure of “stepping it up for his team” get the best of him.

PRICE: “I have 100 percent confidence in myself… You’ve got to be able to live in the moment. I want to be able to step up for my teammates and this organization and all our fans in Canada.”

Tips to Play at Your Peak in Prime-Time Games:

Stop trying to give 110%!

You can’t perform well trying too hard or forcing your game…

Think of the playoffs with the same mindset as regular games. Remind yourself, no matter the situation, the game is the same.

Channel the additional intensity you feel in a big game into helping you focus your best.

Check Out Our Video of the Week, Building Mental Strength in Hockey!

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